Anas Sani Anka
The deployment of the former Governor of Zamfara state, Bello Muhammad Matawalle to head the defense ministry as Minister of state is not without mixed reactions from the people.
Some presume that, looking at the delicate nature of the security situation in the country, the President ought to have deployed people with military or rather security background to head the defense Ministry so that they can be able to bring their years of experience and their network of experts to help collectively end the problems.
Some are also of the opinion that both former Governor of Jigawa Muhammad Badaru and that of Zamfara Bello Matawalle may also not have the clear understanding of the working of the national security structures and indeed they do not also understand the language and psychology within the Nigerian defense architecture and as such they may not fit well into it and performed wonderfully well.
There are those other opinions I came across on the social media that since Matawalle has failed to bring an end to the decade of killings and abduction in Zamfara when he was a Governor, rationally he might not have positive things to add to solving the national security crises as Minister of state defense.
These are public opinions and, naturally, one cannot stop them from trending and more or less that is the beauty of democratic system, at least one is allowed to express his understanding of issues as they relate to governance.
But for me, there is no better thing Tinubu should have done to Zamfara than to give us full control of the nation’s defense so that our decade old problem of armed banditry can be sued into where it fits and get it ends outrightly.
History is there, since during the days of former Governor Yari the complaint has always been that Governors in Nigeria are handicap because they do not have control of the army and that the theater commanders of the Nigerian army do not usually take commands from the state governors and the Governors always hides under that to offer the common people excuses for winning the war against banditry in Zamfara.
For some obvious reasons and as God may have it, President Muhammadu Buhari domiciled the position of the substantive Minister of Defense to Zamfara with general Mansur Dan-Ali as the then Minister and the record is there Zamfara under Yari’s second tenure suffered the worst kind of bloodbath with Dan-Ali an indigene of Zamfara as Minister of Defense.
Even before the tenure of Dan-Ali we could remember the mass killing in Yargaladima and also Kizara in Zamfara state during the first tenure of Yari again as the Governor of Zamfara the Minister of Defense then appointed by the former President Goodluck Jonathan, was also from Zamfara state and added to that option the Inspector General of Police then was also from Zamfara state Mr. M.D Abubakar.
Former Governor Matawalle then as Governor complain bitterly about the weaknesses of the defense architecture in managing the spates of banditry in Zamfara state and at a point, he had to take the option of entering into a peace deal with the bandits for peace to reign in Zamfara state.
The essence of these historical narratives is to bring to our attention that two qualified military generals were appointed substantive ministers of defense without banditry becoming to end, and no superior argument can convince me that the duo as mentioned above are not experts with the requisite skills to bring an end to the killings in the state.
For me it is not the issue of military or security background that matters more rather the political will, enabling environment for decision-making as well synergy with all stakeholders added with most important aspects of what is required (SINCERITY OF PURPOSE).
Matawalle and Badaru can be better than the so-called experts if the factors highlighted above can be instituted with all sense of sincerity and commitment.
Coming to those challenging Tinubu for not being fair to Zamfara the question I will ask here is: can someone tell me the number one priority of a typical Zamfara citizen? of course, security!!!.
For me and in my candid opinion, President Tinubu has brought it home-based solution to the Zamfara insecurity and the choice now is that of Matawalle the former Governor to do what is needed.
In my opinion, it is not the credentials that matters but the understanding of the governance circle and although Matawalle is not a trained security experts there is nothing that stopped him from listening to the experts’ opinions in the major decisions he will take and if he can be a listening leader with focus on what experts will tell him he will eventually succeed.
I want to remind my readers that, as defense minister, he works with the retinue of serving military experts, the Chief of Defense staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air staff and Chief of Naval Staff and under each of these defense outlets there are hundreds of experience senior military officers that championed the policy recreation and implementation.
The Defense Ministry is only ensuring policy coordination and also monitoring the stages of the implementation, simply to ensure that things work well.
Remember also for those who understand the structure of the Defense Ministry, there is a department for both the army, the navy and the air force and each is headed by a director and other retinue of other capable civil servants who ensure that things are implemented to the best of the required standard.
On this premise, Matawalle has a choice to set aside politics and join hands with the current Governor in developing a road map that will bring an end to the killings and abductions in Zamfara and that is the only way he will keep his political relevance alive.
I will use this medium to also urge the former Governor to carefully exclude Zamfara politicians from this new assignment and carefully select the best of the technocrats that would support him to succeed.
All this retinue of Zamfara politicians that have resumed fully in Abuja waiting for the former Governor to be appointed Minister and take control of the Ministry for money making venture shall be sent back to Zamfara and the former Governor should sincerely careful in selecting who work with him for of Nigeria and Nigerians people.
I will advise Matawalle to, as a matter of doing the right thing tried to separate his work as Minister with his home base politics, and this can only be done by constituting a formidable political structure where his political supporters can have access to him even while at home as selective time.
It is also important for the former Governor to find out time and visit home in order to solidify his political popularity because his continued absence from his political home base is telling bad about his political popularity.
On the aspect of the synergy with the government of the state led by Dauda Lawal I think in the spirit of saving Zamfara the former Governor should set aside politics and political differences and join hand with the Governor to bring a permanent solution to the insecurity ravaging the state. When the time for the politics comes , the duo can draw a political space.
It is equally significant for the former Governor to regulate the extent of who speak on his behalf, considering the simple facts that he is now a Minister of the Federal Republic holding sensitive territory (DEFENSE).
Every statement made by someone on his behalf may have a grave consequence on the political relevance of the former Governor. It is good he selects professional information managers that are going to speak on his behalf and even on matters of political concern to the former Governor.
I pray for God almighty to guide you as you take the new path to returning Nigeria to its historical glory of being the most peaceful nation in the continent.